An old man slumps before the screen
where flickering light plays.
Empty film tapdances at reel’s end–
ta-lac, ta-lac, ta-lac, ta-lac, until
stiff fingers fumble with the switch,
labor to rewind the worn print.
When he is ready, film lashes
its licking tongue across the light
and a young man and woman appear:
he, groomed and tucked in a grey tuxedo,
she, smoothing a pearl-seeded bridal gown,
looks up, mouthing words forever silent.
The projectionist rises from his chair–
turns, positioning his ashen face,
superimposing a young man’s features on it.
Squinting into the glare, he smiles,
two smiles, old and young men smiling together,
watching as the celluloid lover wraps herself
intangibly in her husband’s arms.
He inclines his head toward her face
until her pursed lips rest on his cheek
and, whirling in her arms, he begins to cry–